Saturday, April 30, 2016

It's A Dog's Life

Anyone who knows me  knows how much dogs mean to me.

This is our oldest dog, Ham. He's almost ten and been totally blind for the last several years so we never rearrange the furniture. His sniffer works excellent though.

The above is our youngest and the first dog we've ever had who loves to bury a bone. He'll tote it around for thirty minutes looking for the right spot then dig a hole, place the bone in the ground and cover it completely. Ham won't even be out back with Ziggy when he buries it but once Ham goes out sniffs out that buried bone within a matter of minutes...and our back yard isn't small.

Then we have Charlie.

He's the laziest dog I've ever met and a special kind of stupid but we love him too.

Before my brother in law built them a peep hole in our privacy fence, Charlie gnawed his own.

They each have different personalities, just like my three human kids.

I love all six of my kids.

Before our current three we had our first boxer, Rosie.

Paws down, best dog ever. The kids were still little when we got her and almost grown by the time she developed hip dysplasia and sooner than later couldn't even stand. We  kept her until it was harder on her than us. My son, Zach had a best friend who's mom was best friends with the head of animal control in our county. On her off day, the woman agreed to come over to our house and put Rosie down while still in the comfort of her surroundings. We put a beach towel on the kitchen floor  for her to sprawl on and soothed her nerves with gentle talk and petting while she simply drifted into her endless sleep. I cried like a baby.

I asked another one of Zach's friends if he would dig her grave at the at the back of our yard (Zach had a broken wrist from skateboarding at the time) and he did. When he got through digging it I thanked him. He replied "It was an honor".

I remember when Rosie died, the same day I saw a post on Facebook from Zach which simply said

"RIP Crazy Legs"

 I cried even more when I read that.

My older brother rescued two full grown Dobermans a few years back, a male and female. They had always been together so my brother took them as a package deal. They were the most laid back Dobies I've ever met and quickly became my brother's own kids. My brother practices tough love and in return had the two most loyal, obedient and content dogs I've ever known.

Heck, they even let me sleep in one of their beds on one visit when I seemed to have a contagious  fever blister.

The great thing about having dogs is they never complain and are always grateful for your love. The world needs more dogs if you ask me.

On our last visit to Orlando my brother's female Dob wasn't doing too well and had been diagnosed with impeding cancer. She had that Crazy Leg thing going on which our own boxer, Rosie suffered from. My brother decided to keep her until it wasn't good for her.

That time came way too soon.

I was at work last night along with Massey ... crazy busy in the crazy house when she came up  and blindsided me by saying "Daddy just sent me a text, Uncle Chris had to put N.Z. down".

(I know, they have crazy names but came to my brother with them. The male was N.X. and the female was N.Z. Something to do with chromosomes.)

As soon as I could, went back out into the hallway at work for a hot second and cried a tear for them all.

Massey and I were on the way to work today when I asked her to check my phone for messages. I'm old school and never touch my phone when in the car, Atlanta traffic is not conducive with being a distracted driver.

My brother had sent this picture with the following text:

"Boyfriend & girlfriend holding hands before she left to go to the vet. It was like he knew she wasn't coming back."

I haven't been able to stop thinking about my brother who's lost one of his  kids. I wanted to call him but haven't had (made) the time. Slack on my part but the deed is done and cards have been dealt.

The only finality in life is death and there's no changing that.

 There isn't (ashamedly) much I've done for my brother who's done so much for me and my family but him losing that pup is something I totally empathize with and understand.

My sister has two kids, I have three.

My brother had two and just lost one. Total bummer.

I  hope my brother knows I love him almost as much as his dogs did and one still does.

N.Z. is okay now and out of pain, Hope it is the same for us when the time comes.

Til next time..COTTON

Thursday, April 28, 2016

In The Homestretch

I'm a closer to than from, a sixty year old nag who's beat all the odds, racing towards the finish line and feels fantabulous!

Last week I took four days off to spend them in Orlando with the part of my family already there. It was the best Tim and I have gotten along in (literally) years, and felt wonderful. It's not easy to remain together after going through over five years of wondering if you will make it, but have and will.

I've always loved Tim but haven't been in  love with him this last little bit of the journey. It's a nice feeling to fall in love again.

Kudos to him more than me. I can be vicious, he doesn't have a mean bone in his body and more patience (with me) than Job ever thought about having.

He did remark how skinny I had become (and he's right).

My best comeback was "yes, but at least I still have ten digits".

I was pretty freaked out when almost whacked my digit off over four weeks ago but today was the first day I didn't even need to wear a band aide.

Maybe I am a doctor, or at least could play one on TV.

My thinking behind the miraculous recovery of my digit is this:

I must still have a lot of pointing to do.

I need to point out all of the wonderful things which have happened to us in just the past two years. I need to point out how much we are loved. I need to point out how our lives have taken an upward turn and point out how wonderful all three of our kids are doing. I need to point out that for the first time in over half a decade we are debt free and months away from paying our home off. I need to point out we are the luckiest unlucky people on the planet for all the help we've been given...  from both new jobs we secured through friends, to family who have not only stood by us through the financial abyss but sometimes paid our way.

I never ever thought after the last half decade  we would be in the financial position we are today, yet we are.

My thoughts these days are only (and should be) paying it forward.

I have two nephews I used to spoil rotten and have only recently been able to do again. I've taken care of my kids and also been able to help them as well. I've been able to give a drop in the bucket to my sister who I owe everything to.

I owe my brother even more but lucky for me is a man much like our father and loves unconditionally, even with a nag like like me for a sister.

I was at work tonight, with my favorite utility guy washing dishes.

Massey and I bought him a face shield at Christmas so all the chemicals don't splash his face when getting down and dirty scrubbing pans. He was overwhelmed and wears it every shift.

He takes twenty minutes to don his outfit before each shift to keep from getting soaked, made of plastic garbage bags he's pieced together.

Tonight while at work searched Amazon for rubber waterproof aprons and found him one.

It's ordered and on the way. Another dishwasher who I love too was also working  and saw what I was googling so asked him if he would wear one?

His response... "Ms. Kelly, I'd wear the hell out of it."

 He's about my age, has one one hand which is paralyzed but comes in every shift and never complains or asks for assistance in performing his job.

So I ordered him one too.

In two to five business days we will have the best dressed dishwashers in the airport. Bonus points both came with long rubber gloves. (Richard really wanted some long gloves)

Richard , the one with the face mask said he'd be glad to pay me for it, especially since it was a pay day week. I told him not to insult me, it was a gift from me and Massey. Then he said he wanted to give me some money to help with Massey's education. I told him that was out of the question.

You know what?

I've met some really great people at the airport and some are the hardest working most underpaid people I've ever been lucky enough to encounter. I've said it before, my favorite people at the airport are the shuttle drivers and the women who clean the restrooms.

This job has blessed me beyond belief and I would be a thankless, if not worthless person if didn't help others who had an attitude better than my my own while doing a physically harder job than I do but perform it every day with no complaints, a smile on their face and always a kind word to say.

I told Richard the way he could repay me was to write Massey a letter (he is quite the eloquent writer) and tell her how much he likes her and has enjoyed meeting and getting to know her.

It will be a letter Massey will cherish, as will I.

Counting down the days and thanking  peeps who've made me understand what life is really all about.

Don't just talk the talk, walk it ...  every day.

My entire first six months at the airport was a deer in the headlights, faking it the best I could until it all came together. I studied every single shift every chance I got for literally months until this old dog learned her new tricks.

Now two years later am rocking the job in every sense of the word. I'm on time every shift and work my skinny butt off from the time I walk in until the time I stagger out.You get what you give and I give the job my all. I'm still a little nervous walking away from an almost six figure salary but has given me the confidence that now have the skills required to find a job equally as good in the busiest tourist destination in the country, Orlando.

I'll always love my Ecco peeps and be eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and for them.

I've learned how to read customers and "allow them experience joy" while dining with me, thanks to Fifth Group standards and had more compliments as a server working there than any other place I've worked in almost forty years of being a "Plate Slinger".

 I also got to work side by side with my youngest kid for an entire year and let her experience what it is to work for a top notch restaurant, and fills me with pride to witness her knock it out of the park each and every shift. She will be sorely missed, of that I am sure.

The two shifts I work each week without her never go unnoticed. First the shuttle bus driver taking me to the terminal often asks where she is, then most times get the same question while going through the TSA security checkpoint. Then all the servers and cooks at work ask about her and how she's doing in school? Then our chef's will ask about her... even the woman cleaning the restroom when I skirt across the atrium to visit the john. I'll walk out alone after work through the security checkpoint glass doors and often times the TSA guy will say "Where's the other Cotton?" I'll get back to my car and leave the deck to pay for my parking and the attendant always crouches down, peers into the passenger side of my car and say "Where's she at?" (drives me crazy they end their sentence with a preposition but it's the thought that counts)

 She had the best mentor of all, my first manager who trained her well just like he did me.

 She got to meet Ang Lee, the brilliant film director.

 She also met Chris Evans,Captain America.

She even met the cute, very personable Sam Smith.

What a way to spend your year as a young twenty year old kid and even get paid for it! She paid her own way through college this past year, had money to spare and has memories to last a lifetime.

I've witnessed Massey growing into her own this past year and has been more than a bonus to experience it with her.

I'm a lucky person with many faults but also a person who's finally stopped waiting for the next proverbial shoe to drop and finally kicking up her heels to dance.

It's getting better all the time!

I suppose it could have gotten worse but lucky for us, didn't.

Looking forward to what the future may bring us and excited to find out.

Stay tuned...COTTON

Saturday, April 23, 2016

House Hunting Horrors

Tim came across a HUD house in Orlando near my brother we wanted to check out so Tim called the number on the paper stuck to the front glass.

Then it started.

A real estate agent called him back and wanted to show us other houses as well. Since I was going down to Orlando the next weekend she scheduled us for ten AM on Sunday. Tim told her we needed to be through by three to go to our oldest son's birthday party. TJ had moved to Orlando a few months before Tim did and will be nice to have us all together again.

Tim gave her our max budget for a house. The first house she took us to see was ten grand over our budget.

It was a great house in a great location but why show it to us? The second house she showed us cost even more. By this time she had us trapped in her car with her driving, making us leave our car in a a parking lot.

She finally showed us the HUD house after four we couldn't afford. If I'd been married to Tim the Tool Man Taylor, it would have been a great house to buy. It was older in an older subdivision and had obviously been sitting a while. It had all tile flooring and a great floor plan. It was a little outdated but with a lot of repairs could have been a dream house. The best way to describe it is to say it looked like Mike and Carol Brady had been evicted in the early eighties and the house had been vacant since.

Oh, no worries...she had four more for us to look at.

One that Massey and I had really really liked turned out to be a great home... but literally ten feet from the fence of a huge (actually) massive newly built elementary school. It was a Sunday and traffic beside the house was insane. The school seems to be a cut through to escape the busy intersection around the corner.

Massey and I both said the flyer for the house was deceptive advertising and to the max.

Out of all the house she showed us only one was move in ready (one of our requirements) and although we loved it was fourteen thousand over what we said we wanted to pay.

She asked us if we'd be willing to make a bid on it the next day?

By this point I just wanted out of her car. Massey and I were in the back seat rolling our eyes at each other and texting TJ that we would be there soon.

On the way back to our car she said she would research ten more houses for Monday and pick us up at ten AM again. Then the bomb really dropped.

She said she would also bring two different forms for us to sign, one saying we wouldn't use another agent for a house she had shown us.

I was okay with that.

Then she said another form would be for a $297 fee payable in advance to her for.....

I quit listening after that.

We made our escape from her vehicle and Tim told her we'd be in contact.

Crap, we just wanted to look at houses and I wasn't even moving to Orlando until late September! This woman wanted us to buy a house (over our budget) the middle of April.

I shot Massey my look which always means...

Once back in our own car went to pick up my brother at his house and headed to TJ's for his birthday party albeit over an hour late.

TJ had just turned thirty and our first grand baby was just turning one. The food was fabulous and company even better. We stayed for a few hours then headed back to my brother's house.

The real estate agent called Tim on the way back in the car, he put it on speaker phone. She jubilantly announced she had "done her homework" and had six more houses for us to look at the next day.

Tim was driving, with my brother riding shotgun. My brother did the slit across the throat sign under his chin. Tim stepped up and told her we'd decided to wait on looking at other houses until later in the summer but would give her a call next time I came down to Orlando in July.

I'd say her tone after that was devastated to say the least.

Here's the thing.

I don't need a woman bossier than me showing me houses. I don't need someone asking me for almost three hundred dollars before they have done anything more than print out pages off a web site.

My brother gave us his real estate agent's name and we're going with her next time in July.  He also found three or four houses in the area which were great and not only in but a couple under our budget. One of them is on a street where one of his friends live.

We opted to take the next day off and spend it at Cocoa Beach, a short forty minute drive away.

It was an excellent choice to make and a much needed day for me, if not all of us.

TJ and his little family came over for dinner at my brother's that night and we had a wonderful time. Massey got to spend yet another day with her Daddy who she misses dearly.

I love this picture of the two of them. Massey's always been a Daddy's Girl and wouldn't want it any other way. It takes a lot of pressure off me!

Massey and I left the next morning to come back for (me) work and (her) school. She drove the first leg and as we got on the interstate she pointed out the ideal new home for me.

Touche' !!

After the next few crazy months at the airport I may need senior living arrangements. I absolutely hands down love working for Fifth Group Restaurants... for the airport, not so much.

I pay twelve dollars a day to park, no discount for being an employee. I rode MARTA for almost an entire year, only $45 a month with an airport discount but added four unpaid hours to every shift I worked and live nowhere near a MARTA line. Plus when I rode MARTA it let me off at the domestic terminal and had to either go through the long ass security line there and ride the plane train twenty minutes to my terminal or go outside and hope they let me on the shuttle to drive me around to international where I worked and security was a breeze. If there were too many passengers waiting on the international shuttle they would kick employees off to wait for the next one or make you go through the hell which is domestic side. At least on the international side most all the TSA know me by now and let me go ahead of passengers still bumbling around to take off shoes or take things out of their pockets. Everything is measured by seconds when working at the world's busiest airport and can make or break your day.

Don't get me wrong, the job literally saved my family and will always be grateful but after two years is working on what little sanity I have left.

Staying through the busy summer season  being an Olympics year will net me probably eighteen grand and will take the money and run. Trust me, I earn every penny of it.

Unlike many workers at the airport I show up every day on time and most always early. I work hard and consistently from the time I clock in until the time I clock out. I rarely if ever take a (union authorized) break and have a positive attitude every time I walk in the door. Okay, maybe I've had two bad shifts in the two years I've worked there but must most certainly be some kind of record.

I feel like a government worker, for real!

Everything has been set into motion now. Tim is already in Orlando, our house here will be rented out come October with renters we totally trust and will be settling into our new house in Florida with a nice nest egg.

I got a little worried when almost hacked my finger tip off  at work a month ago. In hindsight was an idiot for not immediately going for medical attention but with lots of diligent cleaning and a whole lot of luck survived losing a finger tip.

A customer asked me just the other day what happened to my (bandaged like an ET) finger and how many stitches did it require? I told them I'd pushed actual humans out of my body and all had survived with me taking care of them, one for thirty years now so considered myself a doctor and had given myself an excellent prognosis.

And just like that...

God once again looked after me and still have a finger to wag .

When first happened, had several nightmares about having to have it amputated because of my own stupidity and infection.

Here's my theory of having a successful life.

It's Simple, so very simple.

Just be a good person.

It's worked for me for (closer to than from) almost sixty years.

Sometimes you have to wait. Sometimes you have to be more than patient. Sometimes you have to feel lost.

If you keep believing in yourself and believing in humanity while also encouraging and urging humanity forward in every possible way you have the ability to... it'll be okay in the long run.

It really will.

I've learned more in the last decade than I ever wanted to... but was obviously destined to learn and would be an idiot not to learn from.

I am loved because I also love.

Til next time...a moving on and up COTTON

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Well Worth The Wait

Life is simple, just hasn't been easy for over half a decade.

Now I know why.

We (Tim and I) felt like failures for quite a while.

 Now know was just to teach us what we needed to learn. Never take anything for granted and be grateful for what you have.

We have amazing family which extends to include my sibs, friends old and new and a network of peeps (some of) we've never even met.

When you're really down you're down but luckily (thanks to your bad luck) only have one way to go.


So up we went, slowly but surely.

They've had our backs and  have our love and humble thanks. I'd hate to put a price tag on it but is certainly well into the thousands. Little by little we've started to pay not back but forward.

To have family and friends is priceless and exactly what got us to this point of moving ahead.

I've been blessed with a phenomenally great job which catapulted us back into the black within twelve months and haven't looked back once.

I married a man who after decades of providing for us on his own had to move a thousand miles away from us to keep us together... and did just that.

I remained here with our kids and dogs and kept the home fire he provided from a thousand miles away burning for almost two years.

He's as tall as I am short. He's as quiet as I am loud. My spirit animal is a Tasmanian Devil, his is a Sloth.

After five years of nothing but bad luck, bad news and cut off notices (I) began to point out and sometimes (loudly) verbalize everything wrong and was usually (most always) about him or choices he'd made during our financial scramble. None of it was totally his blame but surely couldn't be mine.

Sometimes a thousand miles is a good buffer zone. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more but most certainly has to be him. I can be (and may have been) a real bee-otch.

He came home maybe three times for short two or three day visits and once for a week. We fought or argued each and every visit,  always instigated by my spirit animal but also always hugged and kissed goodbye, instigated by his.

Tim has done amazingly well and excelled beyond belief with his new job and company. My new job may have propelled us forward but his is quickly guaranteeing us the future we've always dreamed of having.

If you truly love someone, never count them out. Simply trust that you can count on  them.

Fast (albeit slowly) forward six years and look at us now!

Not too bad for two (worn slap out) ole folks who started and met in the lower middle, had twenty years of upper middle class comfort then deflated as quickly as a party balloon.

 Come November our house here will be paid off and come October will be living together again in our new (not chosen yet) home in Orlando.

I've been here, with everything we love and have known. He's gone out there, with the unknown to let me stay here.

I'd say we're approaching the polishing  stage in our marriage and consider it quite an accomplishment.

I finally realized, after almost cutting my finger tip off in the process  and not stopping to say "I need help" may sometimes be a sign that sometimes you do  need help.

Four weeks later not only is my finger healing but my marriage as well.

The first cut is the deepest.

Til next time and looking forward to much more...